In a recent interesting move, a prefab house manufacturer owned by Berkshire Hathaway launched a new line of tiny homes. After two years of development, Clayton homes is betting that continually increasing interest in tiny homes will warrant this move. Warren Buffet investing in something that was considered “fringe” just a few years ago is significant in itself.
Tiny homes, signaling a shift in customer attitudes
Although it is still a niche segment, the growing popularity of tiny homes might be signaling a shift in customer attitudes towards space vs functionality. When weighed in with cost, having less space is ok, so long as it is elegant and functional. Also interesting to note is that for the first time in many years, the size of the average new home has been going down, too.
Attractive to certain segments of the population
A well-built tiny home, at a fraction of the cost of an average one can be attractive. It can be an interesting option for millennials with limited funds, older people looking to downsize for retirement, or veterans, for example. The movement itself is still largely powered by people who dream of living off the grid.
Tiny homes in the 2018 IRC
Another certain sign of the popularity of tiny homes? There will likely be an appendix in the 2018 International Residential Code pertaining to this type of dwelling. This may help guide local code makers towards the inclusion of tiny homes in their building codes. Many of them have nothing about this type of construction, which has been an inhibiting factor for the movement.
Maximizing functionality of available space
Tiny homes are fascinating in this respect: they are case studies in how to maximize the functionality of available space.
Open joist TRIFORCE® is built in exactly that spirit.
The space inside a floor system is ideal for running HVAC, plumbing, and electricity. Using an open web joists greatly increases the possibilities of where and how you can run that equipment. Conversely, joists with solid OSB paneling such as I-joists have strict rules about where and how big to drill holes to install ducting or piping. Builders are often required by an inspector to put in reinforcement where an I-joist was overcut.
Worse still, builders can resort to creating ugly, space-hogging bulkheads to run ducts past “non-drillable” areas, such as in this photo. As the duct is near a supporting wall, the builder chose to invade the basement space, which will make it less attractive.